David Atlee Phillips (right) and the composite sketch
of Antonio Veciana's "Maurice Bishop" (left)
1984 - P - No. 3868
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
B E T W E E N
DAVID ATLEE PHILLIPS
THE OBSERVER LIMITED
STATEMENT IN OPEN COURT
The Plaintiff's Counsel [James Price]
In this libel action I appear for the Plaintiff Mr. David Phillips, and my Learned Friend Mr. Stephen Nathan appears for the Defendant which is the publisher of The Observer newspaper. Until his retirement in 1975, Mr. Phillips was a Division Chief of the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States of America. His rank in that position was the highest that a Career Officer of the CIA can achieve except for Presidential appointments. Mr. Phillips started his service in the CIA in 1950 and served in many countries until his retirement. Since his retirement Mr. Phillips has written his autobiography, "The Night Watch," which was published in this country as well as in America, and he has appeared on television in both countries.
In May 1980 The Observer published two articles about the assassination of President Kennedy which were published as extracts from a book called "Conspiracy" written by Anthony Summers. Additional articles were published by the South China Morning Post to whom The Observer had supplied the bulk of the content. As everybody knows the assassination occurred in 1963, and was the subject of extensive investigations by a Commission known as the Warren Commission and by others since then. Mr. Phillips had given evidence to two subsequent enquiries conducted by the Congress of the United States of America in 1975 and 1979. In reporting on the second enquiry and the report made by the Select Committee of Congress, the articles in The Observer and the South China Morning Post could unfortunately be read as suggesting that Mr. Phillips was himself involved in a conspiracy relating to the assassination of President Kennedy and the suppression of evidence about it. The Observer have always accepted that there was never any evidence whatsoever to support any such suggestion, did not intend such a suggestion to be made and very much regret that the articles could have been read in this way. They recognise how serious and distressing such a suggestion is for Mr. Phillips, and in recognition of that they have agreed to pay a substantial sum to Mr. Phillips and to indemnify him in respect of his costs. In those circumstances, Mr. Phillips is content to let the matter rest.
Counsel for the Defendant
On behalf of The Observer, I endorse everything my Learned Friend has said. The Observer unreservedly apologise for the distress that they have caused. They fully accept that Mr. Phillips was not in any way involved in the assassination of President Kennedy.
Counsel for the Plaintiff
I ask leave to withdraw the record.
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